Human Resources and Manufacturing

Amy Proos leads through recession

May 20, 2014
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Amy Proos
Amy Proos.

Editor’s note: Each issue of the Influential Women enewsletter will feature a profile of one of the Business Journal’s reigning 50 Most Influential Women in West Michigan. The profile first appeared in the event program.

Amy Proos prides herself on honesty, and that trait has proven crucial to the survival, revival and growth of Proos Manufacturing Inc.

Great Recession

In January 2009, she was in the midst of completing the purchase of Proos Manufacturing in Grand Rapids from her father when sales were down 70 percent during one of the worst recessions in years.

Her solution: initiate a business plan and budget full of painful-but-necessary cuts, then communicate openly and honestly with employees. Ultimately, Proos had to slash staff from 70 to 33, reduce work hours and eliminate bonuses.

She did not take a salary for several months and continued operating presses on the shop floor when headcounts were low.

The turnaround

By the end of 2009, however, her tough decisions paid off with several profitable months, allowing her to complete her purchase in 2010.

Since then, Proos Manufacturing has rebounded to 84 employees, and she has opened a sister company, Proos Fabrication. Combined sales of the two businesses now total $13 million.

In 2013, Proos was honored for the amazing turnaround with the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award in Michigan and Northwest Ohio.

Proos and her company have received various awards and honors: Michigan 50 Companies to Watch, several Small Employer of the Year awards, the Urban Entrepreneurship Award and the Enterprising Woman of the Year.

Community

She volunteers with GROW and other organizations, and she actively supports workforce diversity through Goodwill Industries' Power of Work program, offering job opportunities for all levels of abilities.

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